A visit to the high street was no less intriguing for us. More amused were we by the immense object standing before us than the otherwise normal offerings of paracetemol and coloured pantyhose. Occupying the full width of the road and towering some three - maybe four - storeys above our heads was what seemed like a floral-clad mountain. Tall, yes. Massive in its proportions, certainly. But it invited us in with a gaping cave-like entrance at its base.
The mountain serves as a cool oasis in an urban heat island in summer, becoming a temporary vertical marketplace.
As we moved closer we realized that it seemed to be ingeniously constructed of long plank-like blocks that appeared semi-translucent where its raw surface was exposed under the foliage. It was warm to the touch even in the cool of that autumn evening. Peering closer to the blocks, we could see a faint yellowish glow from within.
A local person later explained that the mountain was made from transparent blocks, which were filled with a wax-like material harvested from the beamer bees! The wax enabled a more efficient means of storing heat by capturing temperature change when the wax turns to liquid. The blocks were easy enough to assemble and fill by locals and as a result every springtime, the Acres Green residents gather to build the edifice several terraces higher than the year before.
Aerial view of the living mountains in Acres Green
It seemed this mountain had a life for every season - a plant-growing structure in summer, a school for adults in autumn, a venue for clandestine meetings in winter, and a community building project in spring. The mountain got wheeled around Acres Green to suit the different needs of the community - the mountain in transit being somewhat of a spectacle in itself.
And other mountains of slightly different specification were deployed all over Acres Green for moss-harvesting, bird-watching, saunas, therapy rooms, and meeting points for creative exchanges.
In autumn its warm interiors host the new school term, and it becomes a space for exchange of ideas without hierarchy.
As we snuggled comfortably in the warm interiors of the mountain, we heard shouts of glee from the children who were playing outside, and our curiosity got the better of us. We stepped out to see that the skies above Acres Green are dotted with small cloud-like floating bodies that were gently flocking close to each other in beautiful patterns. We were told that these flocking clouds were controlled by embedded robotics and would fly freely in the space, but on closer encounters, tessellate to bring rain to drying areas.
The large surface area of each cloud was used to condense water particles, just like fog catchers, and then the particles would run down and be stored in the clouds’ undercarriage. When they came together in tessellations this water would be released to form rain. While the locals enjoyed watching the clouds, and were happy to sustain their desired ecoystem, many unintended consequences of these new machines had also begun to surface…
Left: While planters and gardeners were able to order clouds over a dry patch, Right: Some others also ordered them to cool off at a garden party.
Left: A single glowing cloud often provided company on a late night walk home. Right: But bored kids hacked the network and managed to turn the rain filled clouds onto passers by.
This is the last post on the final outcomes of the project. Posts below take you through our process and how we got here.